John Tortorella has found himself and his team in a challenging situation following their 3-0 loss to Team Europe on Saturday. Though critiqued by many for their roster selection, few expected a shutout loss to Team Europe. But that’s exactly what happened, putting the Americans in an absolute must win against arch-rival Canada. Stephen Whyno writes that while the game has to result in an American victory for any sort of hope, it’s just another game for the Canadians. Tortorella called the Tuesday’s contest its “championship game,” and had this to say regarding the potential elimination game:
“Playing there, against them, everybody wants us knocked out,” Tortorella said Monday. “I can’t wait and I think our players can’t wait for this game to start. It’s going to be a blast.”
Team Canada bench boss Mike Babcock on the other hand, takes the approach that every important game in the tournament is the next one, and while Canada fended off the Czech Republic with ease, they certainly won’t be overlooking a desperate American squad. Whyno reports that Canada isn’t concerned with eliminating the US for extra motivation. Instead, it’s a business as usual approach for the team that has been dubbed by many as having few to little weaknesses.
In other hockey news:
- Justin Abdelkader will be placed on a line with Patrick Kane in the tilt against Canada writes Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski and it could be another in a line of head scratching Tortorella moves. Tortorella claims that anyone questioning his “thinking” is simply reporters “overthinking” it. Further, he writes that Abdelkader, based on his play, has earned more ice time. Wyshynski argues that Abdelkader is generally considered to be a third or fourth line player, but Abdelkader makes this point:
“I’ve played with some good players in Detroit and it’s similar to him. You want the puck on his stick. But you can’t just think you’re going to throw pucks all the time at him. It’s the right opportunities. I think we’re a better team when Patrick Kane has the puck on his stick, that’s for sure.”
Abdelkader also points out that he’ll play “wherever” Tortorella puts him. Wyshynski also points out that this is an old hat strategy by Torts: those who play hard will play more and those who don’t will sit. While that strategy seems subjective, and many would argue that it is, if it works, then Tortorella looks like a genius. If not, then it’ll add to the litany of missteps Team USA has made through the World Cup experience.